Rep. Jamie Raskin On Project 2025 | Crooked Media
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June 12, 2024
What A Day
Rep. Jamie Raskin On Project 2025

In This Episode

  • House Democrats on Tuesday launched an official task force to take on the far-right agenda Republicans envision under a second Trump presidency. The group of Democrats aims to directly counter the plans outlined in “Project 2025,” a 1,000 page policy blueprint floated by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that calls for eliminating federal agencies like the FBI and Justice Department, restricting access to contraception, and concentrating more power in the presidency. Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin is on the task force. He joins us to talk about why a second Trump term could be more destabilizing than the first.
  • And in headlines: President Joe Biden and other world leaders are convening in Italy for the G7 summit, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a non-binding resolution that condemns the use of in-vitro fertilization, and White House Press Secretary avoided giving a definitive answer on whether Biden will consider commuting his son Hunter’s eventual sentence on federal gun charges.
Show Notes:


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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Thursday, June 13th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day, the show where we’re devastated to report that hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut was banned from the famous 4th of July Nathan’s hot dog eating contest because he signed an endorsement deal with a rival brand. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, a vegan brand at that. Mr. Chestnut has eaten over 1000 hot dogs in the contest in the almost 20 years he’s been competing. Our hope is that he has a good cardiologist on retainer. [music break] On today’s show, the leaders from the world’s wealthiest democracies head to Italy for the G7 summit. Plus, the Southern Baptist Convention votes on issues that affect women in the church. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, House Democrats on Tuesday launched an official task force to take on the threat of a second Trump term and project 2025. The 1000 page playbook of right wing policy proposals developed by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. Democrats are coordinating their efforts with progressive organizations, and their goal is to educate voters about the extremist policies that Trump and Republicans want to enact. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So we’ve heard Trump’s threats in his campaign rants. This is now his third campaign for president. What else can you tell us about project 2025? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, let me put it like this. The four conservative promises of the project are, quote, “restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children, dismantle the administrative state and return self-governance to the American people. Defend our nation’s sovereignty, borders, and bounty against global threats and secure our God given individual rights to live freely, what our Constitution calls the blessings of liberty.” Translation, their plan is to create an autocratic theocracy that will usher in the dictatorship that Donald Trump dreams of having on day one, if he wins in November. Under this plan, the government will shrink, including the elimination of entire agencies like the Department of Education. Words like abortion, gender, and equity will be deleted from all federal rules, and Trump will be granted more unchecked power. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, that sounds terrible in every single possible way. 


Juanita Tolliver: Terrible. Terrifying. Demented. Extreme. All the things. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Extreme. Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: To dig into the threat of a second Trump term and why it would have zero guardrails, I spoke with Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. I started by asking Representative Raskin why he is more afraid of a second Trump term than the first. 


Jamie Raskin: Well, I suppose there was enough mystery around the guy when he first started that there were more constitutional Republicans involved, you might call them. Those people like Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney and Adam Kinzinger, have been eliminated from the Republican Party. Trump has also been able to identify the kinds of people he doesn’t trust to remove them both from his inner circle and from the prospective, executive branch, God forbid. Um. And also to try to get rid of them from the Republican Party apparatus. I mean, they’ve completely turned on and exiled uh Larry Hogan in Maryland for saying that people should respect the jury verdict in Trump’s case and they would rather have a minority in a body like the Senate that is completely slavish and obsequious to Donald Trump than to have a majority that includes some people who, you know, might try to check his most reckless and violent impulses. 


Juanita Tolliver: And just for context, for our listeners, Larry Hogan, Senate candidate, former governor of Maryland, is who you’re referring to. And with that extremism in mind, though, do you think our institutions could survive another January 6th? 


Jamie Raskin: Well, I think what we’re learning is that a Constitution is something that it does exist in a place and the time in a certain context, and people have to go out there and fight for it. And I think we’ve got tremendous resources on our side. I think the vast majority of American people reject Trump and Trumpism and the kind of political extremism he represents. But it cannot be like watching a football game. I mean, this is not something you’re going to be able to do as a spectator. You’ve got to be engaged, and you’ve got to stand up for the truth, and you got to stand up for democracy. Wherever you are, at every conceivable level, at the local level and the school boards and the county level and the state level, in Congress, because the way that fascism works is they try to dismantle every social institution and make them subordinate to the will of the autocrat. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now you talk about taking action. I know House Democrats this week unveiled a task force to take on project 2025, which is basically this thousand page policy blueprint pushed by the conservative Heritage Foundation to reshape the government into an authoritarian theocracy. You’re on the democratic task force. What will success look like for you? Is this just about keeping Trump from getting reelected? 


Jamie Raskin: No, I mean, this is about strengthening democracy and moving it forward. I mean, the mistake is to think that democracy is a static set of institutions in just a frozen framework. It’s not democracy is always an unfinished project. It’s something in motion. So we’ve got millions of disenfranchized people in America, you know, in Washington, D.C., you’ve got more than 700,000 taxpaying, draftable citizens who are not represented in the House or Senate by voting representation. It’s time for D.C. statehood, and it is time for statehood for 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico who are completely locked out of government. But we got to get serious about it, and we’ve got to get serious about a Constitution amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. And we got to get serious about uh moving to a national popular vote for president. I mean, it’s 2024. How about we started liking the president the way we elect mayors, governors, representatives, senators, everybody else. Whoever gets the most votes wins. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, I think those are all huge endeavors and huge goals, but we also recognize that they would need to pass Congress. So thinking about the project 2025 effort and the task force House Democrats have created, what are some of the immediate steps that you all are planning to take, and how would you define success, especially in the lead up to November? 


Jamie Raskin: Well, obviously, most of us are spending most of our time out on the road campaigning for sweeping Democratic victory in the House, in the Senate, and, of course, defending the White House. That is going to be the precondition for us getting anything done. But we also need to be prepared to defend against a truly authoritarian program and a theocratic program, as you put it, that has been advanced by the Heritage Foundation and by Trump’s, you know, kitchen cabinets such as it is. And they want to strip civil service protections from tens of thousands of government workers and turn them into direct political appointees and subordinates to the president of the United States. So he has a loyal army of political sycophants and flunkies who are willing to do whatever he says. That is obviously the prized value there, that there’s got to be loyalty to the president over loyalty to the Constitution or the people or the law. And so we’re going to have to try to defend a professional civil service. We’re going to have to keep them from setting up detention camps for uh immigrants and then deporting millions of people, which is what they’re talking about. So that’s where we are. I mean, if you look at the kinds of things that they’re talking about, we’re moving in the exact opposite direction. They want to destroy the separation of powers. They want to destroy the separation of church and state and religious freedom in America. They want to trample the freedom of speech in the media. And we want to defend liberal democracy and strengthen it and expand it and make sure that it delivers. 


Juanita Tolliver: So if Trump wins, he would also likely enjoy a six three conservative majority on the Supreme Court instead of the five four majority he had during his first term. So what are the constitutional risks of a High Court majority that’s in lockstep with an authoritarian leader? 


Jamie Raskin: Well, the risk is that we lose everything that we’re campaigning for in 2024. I mean, say we build the Democratic majorities in both houses that were working for now, and we passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. So we repair the damage that the Supreme Court inflicted on the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County versus Holder in 2013, the Supreme Court could strike down what we do, saying that it’s outside of Congress’s powers under section five of the 14th amendment. I mean, say that we codify Roe versus Wade, and we say women, again, will have a right to choose to have an abortion if they want one or need one, um without interference by state legislators. We could pass that. And then the six to three right wing majority in the court could simply say that we are without the constitutional power to do that. So whether it’s statutory, it’s regulatory, or constitutional, a right wing Supreme Court operating in cahoots with the Republican Party is a major peril to the ability of Congress to pass the legislation that America needs. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. And we’ve spent this interview talking about all of the ways that a second Trump presidency could be worse than the first. Yet none of his destabilizing threats, the insurrection, his criminal trials, and now his conviction seem to be moving the needle on his support. In fact, he’s arguably more viable as a candidate now than he was when he ran, four years ago. So he’s leading President Joe Biden in some polls, especially in swing states, as we discussed, that will decide this election. So why isn’t Democratic messaging about the dangers of a second Trump term cutting through and resonating with voters? 


Jamie Raskin: Well, I’ve been to 20 states in this campaign. I have another eight or nine states to get to. So I’m out campaigning. I’m talking to a lot of people. I’m seeing tremendous energy and vitality on the Democratic side, huge crowds of people coming out to support our candidates. And I would say Donald Trump is going down. I mean, he’s a convicted felon who stands exposed before the world. The emperor has no clothes. On our side, the difference between 2020 and 2024 is 13 or 14 million new young people, and we need to make sure that we are making the most effective overtures to young people and bringing them into this campaign and bringing them into our party, and they have every reason to want to be in the pro-choice party rather than the anti-choice party, every reason to be in the pro-environment and climate serious party versus the party of climate deniers. So it’s not even a real choice for them. I mean, they’ve got to join the party of democracy and freedom, and they need to know that we are hearing them about the things they care about, like war and peace and what’s happening in Gaza. 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, you talk about what you’re experiencing and witnessing on the trail, but that seems to diverge from what some of the polls have been showing, especially around young people, where an NPR poll found that young people are split between Biden and Trump. And so I ask again, what type of messaging or narrative changes are you planning to make, especially through this new task force that would more resonate and garner additional support that can be tracked in the methodology of polling to show that the messaging is cutting through? 


Jamie Raskin: I mean, I don’t think this is a big choice, and I don’t think the messaging is difficult at all. I mean, I think we need to get out and organize people, and that’s what I’m doing. You know, I’m just one member. I don’t run the DCCC or the DNC or any of these institutions, but I have converted my campaign into what’s called Democracy Summer. I spend no money on TV, radio, pollsters, or consultants, any of that stuff in my district. I put it into a school for young people. And so we’re educating high school and college kids about the history of the Democratic struggles for inclusion, and then what’s going on today in the struggle against gerrymandering of our federal and state districts, voter suppression tactics, the filibuster, corporate dark money in our politics, and so on. Um. This is an ongoing struggle. Democracy is something you got to fight for. 


Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. And we will continue to bring you updates about the task force and its impact with voters. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That is the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment. But if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and tell your friends. We will be back after some ads. [music break]




Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: World leaders will convene for the G7 summit in Italy today to tackle a lengthy agenda dominated by the war in Ukraine. The US is set to announce a new plan to use frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s defense. Western countries seized about $300 billion worth of Russian assets after the Kremlin first invaded Ukraine in 2022. The funds have been sitting in western banks while leaders debate what to do with them. President Biden will also sign a security agreement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to reaffirm the administration’s commitment to supporting Kyiv for the long term. The US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Britain have other issues on the table to discuss, including tensions in the Middle East, trade with China and deepening ties with African nations. The G7 will wrap up on Saturday. 


Juanita Tolliver: Some news out of this week’s primary elections in South Carolina. Incumbent Republican Representative Nancy Mace won her party’s nomination. Former president and convicted felon Donald Trump endorsed Mace ahead of the primary, boosting her campaign to defeat her challenger, Catherine Templeton. In Nevada, Republican Sam Brown won the GOP primary by a landslide. He’ll go head to head with Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen for her seat in November, in what is expected to be one of the most closely watched races of this election cycle. And finally, in Ohio, Republican State Senator Michael Rulli prevailed in the special election for the state’s open House seat, and his win will expand the GOP’s slim majority in the chamber. I got to go back to that South Carolina race, though, because I feel like that was the clear marker that Kevin McCarthy has no juice in the Republican Party. I mean. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No. 


Juanita Tolliver: He didn’t have juice when he got ousted, but this was like the clear death nail. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s fallen pretty far. At an annual meeting in Indianapolis, delegates for the Southern Baptist Convention approved a non-binding resolution that condemns the use of in vitro fertilization. The resolution reads in part, quote, “though all children are to be fully respected and protected, not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God honoring or morally justified.” Unbelievable. It echoes the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that determined that embryos used in the IVF process are children. In other news, out of this year’s meeting, delegates just barely rejected an amendment to the convention’s constitution, which stated only men can serve as pastors in the church. They rejected it. So that sounds like a good thing, right? 


Juanita Tolliver: Decidedly, no. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s not, because it turns out Southern Baptist leaders already have the power to expel churches that allow women behind the pulpit. So basically it was rejected because it was redundant. They were like, we can already do this. In fact, on Tuesday, delegates voted overwhelmingly to push out a Virginia church for permitting women to serve as ministers, and that church had been part of the convention since the 19th century. 


Juanita Tolliver: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre avoided giving a definitive answer when asked whether President Biden will consider commuting his son Hunter’s sentence on federal gun charges. Speaking aboard Air Force One, she told reporters that she hasn’t spoken with the president about a possible commutation since the guilty verdict was announced. Meanwhile, she reiterated that the president said just last week he will not pardon Hunter. 


[clip of Karine Jean-Pierre] He was very clear, very upfront. Uh. Very, uh obviously very definitive. And I just don’t have anything he you have his own words. I just don’t have anything beyond that. 


Juanita Tolliver: However, last September, the press secretary was asked about a potential pardon or commutation for Hunter, and at the time gave a clear no. We’ll have to keep watching to see if President Biden actually wants to leave commutation as an option, or if this was just a miscommunication. And I don’t think it was a miscommunication. I just think she hasn’t talked to the president. And so I think there’s nothing really to do here. Like [laugh] I don’t think there’s a question right now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It sounds like things are where they were, which is he’s taken off the table. And those are the headlines. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Throw your hat in the ring of the Southern Baptist drama and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just about the extremist Republicans who won their primaries Tuesday night like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] And hot dog justice for Joey Chestnut. 


Juanita Tolliver: You know, I’ve never had a Nathan’s hot dog. I think I’d like to try. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’ve never had a hot dog at all. 


Juanita Tolliver: Josie, this is remarkable. Please put this in the show. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’ve also never had a hamburger. 


Juanita Tolliver: Wait wait wait wait wait. What? 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m not a vegetarian. 


Juanita Tolliver: Huh. [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We have production up today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.